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The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge: W is for Worm

Thursday, 26 April 2012

My posts in the The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge are all about interesting words. Words that are weird, intriguing, poetic or just plain cool ...

W is for Worm

Like thing, worm is one of those little words that has accrued lots of different meanings. Obviously it can refer to a whole series of distantly-related animals. As well as true worms, for example, the word is used to refer to larvae, centipedes or even snakes.

The most familiar worms - earthworms - have been around for around 120 million years. They're an invaluable part of our ecosystem. Charles Darwin studied them at length and found that they turn over the top six inches of the soil (dirt) every twenty years. Earthworms play a vital role in maintaining soil fertility.

To a speculative fiction writer, two other senses of the word are hard to avoid. In fantasy books, "worm" is obviously another word for "dragon". Smaug is referred to as a "worm" in The Hobbit. Sometimes the word is even used to refer to the devil.

A modern meaning more likely to crop up in an SF story is worm as in a species of computer malware. In computing terms, a worm is distinct from a virus. A worm doesn't need to attach itself to some other piece of software as a virus does. It exists mainly to replicate itself across a network (such as the Internet).

The word derives from the Old English word wyrm, a word I really like.

Archaeopteryx Blunderbuss Chthonic Dreadnought Entropy Fulgurite Gargantua Humbucking Ichthyic Juggernaut Kappa Labyrinthine Megrim Numinous Ophidian Pandemonium Quark Ragnarök Shibboleth Thing Umami Verdigris Worm


  1. Worm is a great word and is used frequently. I like the word wormhole myself, and aren't you glad we didn't try to worm our way out of the A-Z challenge!

  2. I love the old spelling wyrm. It would add distinction to the occasionally uttered (in our house, anyway) 'that bloody cat's got wyrms again...'

  3. Elise - I am glad! And "wormhole" is a whole other sense I didn't mention, of course.

    Rebecca - Just be careful your cat doesn't get infested with dragons ...

  4. I always pick up stranded worms on pavements and put them on the nearest soil/grass verge I find!

    Take care

  5. Old Kitty - Excellent, I'm delighted to hear it! They can be a bit suicidal...

  6. I always liked the word wyrm too. Seemed much more sci-fi to me.

  7. Hi Simon - the beloved basic earthworm .. who keeps this little old world turning over .. and the town of Worms?! Let alone Wyrmying ideas .. cheers Hilary

  8. I also really like the wyrm spelling. It just seems to evoke other worlds.

  9. Hilary - Worms everywhere!

    Nicole - Yes, I do agree. Shame we don't speak/spell like that!


I'd love to know what you think.